Czechoslovakia

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Československo
Czechoslovakia

1918 – 1992
 

 

Flag Coat of arms
Flag since 1920 Coat of arms in 1990-1992
Motto
Czech: Pravda vítězí
("Truth prevails"; 1918–1990)
Latin: Veritas Vincit
("Truth prevails"; 1990–1992)
Anthem
Kde domov můj and Nad Tatrou sa blýska
Location of Czechoslovakia
Capital Prague
Language(s) Czech and Slovak
Government Republic
President
 - 1918–1935 Tomáš G. Masaryk (first)
 - 1989–1992 Václav Havel (last)
Prime Minister
 - 1918–1919 Karel Kramář
 - 1992 Jan Stráský
History
 - Independence from Austria-Hungary 28 October, 1918
 - German occupation 1939
 - Liberation 1945
 - Dissolution of Czechoslovakia 31 December, 1992
Area
 - 1921 140,446 km² (54,227 sq mi)
 - 1993 127,900 km² (49,382 sq mi)
Population
 - 1921 est. 13,607,385 
     Density 96.9 /km²  (250.9 /sq mi)
 - 1993 est. 15,600,000 
     Density 122 /km²  (315.9 /sq mi)
Currency Czechoslovak koruna
Internet TLD .cs
Calling code +42
Current ISO 3166-3 code:        CSHH
The calling code 42 was retired in Winter 1997. The number range was subdivided, and re-allocated amongst Czech Republic, Slovakia and Liechtenstein.

Czechoslovakia (Československo; from 1990 to 1992 in Slovak: Česko-Slovensko) was a sovereign state in Central Europe that existed from October 1918 (upon declaring its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire) until 1992 (with a government-in-exile during the World War II period). On January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Contents

[edit] Basic characteristics

Form of state:

Neighbours: Germany (1945–1990: BRD and DDR), Poland, from 1945 Soviet Union (1992: Ukraine), Romania (until 1939), Hungary, Austria

Topography: Generally irregular terrain. Western area is part of north-central European uplands. Eastern region is composed of northern reaches of Carpathian Mountains and Danube River Basin lands.

Czechoslovakia 1920-1938, physical

Climate: Predominantly continental but varied from the moderate temperatures of Western Europe in the west to more severe weather systems affecting Eastern Europe and the western Soviet Union in the east.

[edit] Official names

  • 1918–1920: Republic of Czechoslovakia (abbreviated RČS); short form Czecho-Slovakia
  • 1920–1938: Czechoslovak Republic (ČSR); short form Czechoslovakia
  • 1938–1939: Czecho-Slovak Republic; short form Czecho-Slovakia
  • 1945–1960: Czechoslovak Republic (ČSR); short form Czechoslovakia
  • 1960–1990: Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (ČSSR); Czechoslovakia
  • April 1990: Czechoslovak Federative Republic (Czech version) and Czecho-Slovak Federative Republic (Slovak version),
  • afterwards: Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (ČSFR, with the short forms Československo in Czech and Česko-Slovensko in Slovak)

[edit] History

[edit] Foundation

Czechoslovakia was founded in October 1918 as one of the successor states of Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I. It consisted of the present day territories of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia. Its territory included some of the most industrialized regions of the former Austria-Hungary. It was a multiethnic state. The original ethnic composition of the new state was 51% Czechs, 16% Slovaks, 22% Germans, 5% Hungarians and 4% Rusyns or Ruthenians (trans-Carpathian Ukrainians).[1] Many of the Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians and Poles[2] and also some Slovaks, felt disadvantaged in Czechoslovakia, because the political elite of the country introduced a centralized state and most of the time did not allow political autonomy for the ethnic groups. This policy, combined with increasing Nazi propaganda especially in the industrialized German speaking Sudetenland, led to increasing unrest among the non-Czech population.

Czechoslovakia in 1928
Czechoslovak lands inside Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1911
     Czechs      Austrians/
     Germans
     Slovaks      Hungarians      Romanians      Poles

     Ruthenians (Rusyns and Ukrainians)

The official ideology about constituent nations of the new state at the time was that there are no Czechs and Slovaks, but only one nation: Czechoslovaks (see Czechoslovakism). But not all people agreed with this ideology (mainly among Slovaks) and once a unified Czechoslovakia was restored after WWII (see dividing of the country during WWII) this idea was left behind and Czechoslovakia was a country of two nations - the Czechs and the Slovaks.

Czechoslovakia 1930: linguistic

Nationalities of Czechoslovakia 1921[3]


total population 13,607.385
Czechoslovaks 8,759.701 64.37 %
Germans 3,123.305 22.95 %
Hungarians 744.621 5.47 %
Ruthenians 461.449 3.39 %
Jews 180.534 1.33 %
Poles 75.852 0.56 %
Others 23.139 0.17 %
Foreigners 238.784 1.75 %

[edit] World War II

Annexations of Czechoslovakia

After the Munich Agreement of 1938, in which the UK and France forced Czechoslovakia to cede the German-speaking Sudetenland to Nazi Germany despite existing treaties in what is commonly known as part of the Western Betrayal. In 1939 the remainder ("rump") of Czechoslovakia was invaded by Nazi Germany and divided into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the puppet Slovak State. Much of Slovakia and all of Subcarpathian Ruthenia was annexed by Hungary.

[edit] Communist Czechoslovakia

After World War II, prewar Czechoslovakia was re-established, with the exception of Subcarpathian Ruthenia, which was annexed by the Soviet Union and incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The so-called Beneš decrees were promulgated concerning ethnic Germans (see Potsdam Agreement) and ethnic Hungarians. Under these decrees, citizenship was abrogated for people of German and Hungarian ethnic origin who had accepted German or Hungarian citizenship during the occupations. (In 1948 this provision was canceled for the Hungarians, but not for the Germans). This was then used to confiscate their property and expel around 90% of the ethnic German population of Czechoslovakia, over 2 million people. The people who remained were collectively accused of supporting the Nazis (after the Munich Agreement, in December 1938, 97.32% of adult Sudetengermans voted for NSDAP in elections). Almost every decree explicitly stated that the sanctions did not apply to antifascists although the term Antifascist was not explicitly defined. Some 250,000 Germans, many married to Czechs, some antifascists, but also people required for the post-war reconstruction of the country remained in Czechoslovakia. The Benes Decrees still cause controversy between nationalist groups in Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Hungary.[4]

Carpathian Ruthenia was occupied by (and in June 1945 formally ceded to) the Soviet Union. In 1946 parliamentary election the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia emerged as the winner in the Czech lands (the Democratic Party won in Slovakia). In February 1948 the Communists seized power. Although they would maintain the fiction of political pluralism through the existence of the National Front, except for a short period in the late 1960s (the Prague Spring) the country was characterised by the absence of liberal democracy. While its economy remained more advanced than those of its neighbours in Eastern Europe, Czechoslovakia grew increasingly economically weak relative to Western Europe.

In 1968, in response to a brief period of liberalization, five Eastern Bloc countries invaded Czechoslovakia. Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev viewed this intervention as vital to the preservation of the Soviet, socialist system and vowed to intervene in any state that sought to replace Marxism-Leninism with capitalism.[5] In 1969, Czechoslovakia was turned into a federation of the Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic. Under the federation, social and economic inequities between the Czech and Slovak halves of the state were largely eliminated. A number of ministries, such as Education, were formally transferred to the two republics. However, the centralized political control by the Communist Party severely limited the effects of federalization.

The 1970s saw the rise of the dissident movement in Czechoslovakia, represented (among others) by Václav Havel. The movement sought greater political participation and expression in the face of official disapproval, making itself felt by limits on work activities (up to a ban on any professional employment and refusal of higher education to the dissidents' children), police harassment and even prison time.

[edit] After 1989

In 1989 the country became democratic again through the Velvet Revolution. This occurred at around the same time as the fall of communism in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland. Within three years communist rule had been totally eradicated from Europe.

Unlike Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, the end of communism in this country did not automatically mean the end of the "communist" name: the word "socialist" was removed from the name on March 29, 1990, and replaced by "federal".

In 1992, because of growing nationalist tensions, Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved by parliament. Its territory became the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which were formally created on January 1, 1993.

[edit] Heads of state and government

[edit] International agreements and membership

After WWII, active participant in Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), Warsaw Pact, United Nations and its specialized agencies; signatory of conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe

[edit] Administrative divisions

  • 1918–1923: different systems on former Austrian territory (Bohemia, Moravia, small part of Silesia) and on former Hungarian territory (Slovakia and Ruthenia): three lands [země] (also called district units [obvody]) Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia plus 21 counties [župy] in today's Slovakia plus two(?) counties in today's Ruthenia; both lands and counties were divided in districts [okresy]
  • 1923–1927: like above, except that the above counties were replaced by six (grand) counties [(veľ)župy] in today's Slovakia and one (grand) county in today's Ruthenia, and the number and frontiers of the okresy were changed on these two territories
  • 1928–1938: four lands [in Czech: země / in Slovak: krajiny]: Bohemia, Moravia-Silesia, Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia; divided in districts [okresy]
  • late 1938–March 1939: like above, but Slovakia and Ruthenia were promoted to "autonomous lands"
  • 1945–1948: like 1928–1938, except that Ruthenia became part of the Soviet Union
  • 1949–1960: 19 regions [kraje] divided in 270 districts [okresy]
  • 1960–1992: 10 regions [kraje], Prague, and (since 1970) Bratislava (capital of Slovakia); divided in 109–114 districts (okresy]); the kraje were abolished temporarily in Slovakia in 1969–1970 and for many functions since 1991 in Czechoslovakia; in addition, the two republics Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic were established in 1969 (without the word Socialist since 1990)

[edit] Population and ethnic groups

[edit] Politics

After WWII, monopoly on politics held by Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Gustáv Husák elected first secretary of KSC in 1969 (changed to general secretary in 1971) and president of Czechoslovakia in 1975. Other parties and organizations existed but functioned in subordinate roles to KSC. All political parties, as well as numerous mass organizations, grouped under umbrella of the National Front. Human rights activists and religious activists severely repressed.

[edit] Constitutional development

Czechoslovakia had the following constitutions throughout its history (1918 – 1992):

[edit] Economy

After WWII, economy centrally planned with command links controlled by communist party, similar to Soviet Union. Large metallurgical industry but dependent on imports for iron and nonferrous ores.

  • Industry: Extractive and manufacturing industries dominated sector. Major branches included machinery, chemicals, food processing, metallurgy, and textiles. Industry wasteful of energy, materials, and labor and slow to upgrade technology, but country source of high-quality machinery, aircraft, aero engines and instruments, electronics and arms for other communist countries.
  • Agriculture: Minor sector but supplied bulk of food needs, due to collectivised farms of large acreage and relatively effective way of operation. Dependent on imports of grains (mainly for livestock feed) in years of adverse weather. Meat production constrained by shortage of feed, but high per capita consumption of meat.
  • Foreign Trade: Exports estimated at US$17.8 billion in 1985, of which 55% machinery, 14% fuels and materials, 16% manufactured consumer goods. Imports at estimated US$17.9 billion in 1985, of which 41% fuels and materials, 33% machinery, 12% agricultural and forestry products other. In 1986, about 80% of foreign trade with communist countries.
  • Exchange Rate: Official, or commercial, rate Kcs 5.4 per US$1 in 1987; tourist, or noncommercial, rate Kcs 10.5 per US$1. Neither rate reflected purchasing power. The exchange rate on the black market was around Kcs 30 per US$1, and this rate became the official one once the currency became convertible in the early 1990s.
  • Fiscal Year: Calendar year.
  • Fiscal Policy: State almost exclusive owner of means of production. Revenues from state enterprises primary source of revenues followed by turnover tax. Large budget expenditures on social programs, subsidies, and investments. Budget usually balanced or small surplus.

[edit] Resource base

After WWII, country energy short, relying on imported crude oil and natural gas from Soviet Union, domestic brown coal, and nuclear and hydroelectric energy. Energy constraints a major factor in 1980s.

[edit] Transportation and communications

[edit] Society and social groups

[edit] Education

Education free at all levels and compulsory from age six to fifteen. Vast majority of population literate. Highly developed system of apprenticeship training and vocational schools supplemented general secondary schools and institutions of higher education.

[edit] Religion

In 1991: Roman Catholics 46.4%, Evangelic Lutheran 5.3%, Atheist 29.5%, n/a 16.7%, but there were huge differences between the 2 constituent republics – see Czech Republic and Slovakia

[edit] Health, social welfare and housing

After WWII, free health care was available to all citizens. National health planning emphasized preventive medicine; factory and local health-care centers supplemented hospitals and other inpatient institutions. There became substantial improvement in rural health care during the 1960s and 1970s.

[edit] Mass media

The mass media in Czechoslovakia was controlled by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). Private ownership of any publication or agency of the mass media was generally forbidden, although churches and other organizations published small periodicals and newspapers. Even with this informational monopoly in the hands of organizations under KSČ control, all publications were reviewed by the government's Office for Press and Information.

[edit] Sports

The Czechoslovakia national football team was a consistent performer in the international scene, with 8 appearances in the FIFA World Cup Finals, finishing in second-place in 1934 and 1962. The team also won the European Football Championship in 1976 and came in third in 1980.

The Czechoslovak national ice hockey team won many medals from the world championships and Olympic games.

Emil Zátopek, winner of four Olympic gold medals in athletics, is considered one of the top athletes in history.

Vera Caslavska olympic gold medalist in gymnastics,winner of seven gold medals and four silver medals, and represently Czechoslovakia in three consecutive olympics.

The famous tennis players Ivan Lendl, Miloslav Mečíř, Daniela Hantuchová and Martina Navrátilová were born in Czechoslovakia.

[edit] Culture

[edit] Postage stamps

[edit] From creation to dissolution—overview

[edit] References

  1. ^ "The War of the World", Niall Ferguson Allen Lane 2006.
  2. ^ Playing the blame game, Prague Post, July 6th, 2005
  3. ^ Škorpila F. B.; Zeměpisný atlas pro měšťanské školy; Státní Nakladatelství; second edition; 1930; Czechoslovakia
  4. ^ East European Constitutional Review
  5. ^ John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History (New York: The Penguin Press),150.

Czechoslovak Republic

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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